From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Kaufman, the winner of the PWA Best First Private Eye Novel Competition, introduces an unusual PI, a former foster child, in his impressive debut. Too often in mystery fiction a character's difficult upbringing is tacked on, but Willis Gidney bears emotional scars from being abandoned that are both convincing and relevant to the story line.Â Jazz great Steps Jackson, a friend of the D.C. gumshoe, hires Gidney to locate his long-lost daughter. Gidney, who normally serves subpoenas, attracts the interest of a creepy private security firm and an ambitious right-wing politician.Â After a lead takes him to Colette Andrews, the wife of the former Virginia state attorney general, Colette turns up shot to death, and the police suspect Gidney of having pulled the trigger.Â While one coincidental developmentÂ will raise eyebrows, Kaufman, a director and cameraman who twice won the Gordon Parks Award for cinematography, pulls off a taut, compelling tale of violence and corruption. (Mar.)
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As a child, Willis Gidney was homeless on the streets of Washington, D.C. Not even knowing his own name, he entered the D.C. juvenile justice system named for the two beat cops who collared him. Juvie made him tough and street-smart. Now 35, he’s a struggling PI. A good friend asks Gidney to find a daughter who has been missing for 25 years. Dead bodies begin to pile up immediately, and Gidney is up to his neck in crooked congressmen, rapacious corporations, hired guns, cynical cops, and devious women. Kaufman, an award-winning cinematographer, has created a wonderful new series hero, a smart, tough, and cocky knight errant scarred by his past but resilient and resourceful. Gidney’s backstory almost takes precedence over the case, but Kaufman artfully weaves them together. His D.C., from the corridors of Capitol Hill to the horrors of juvenile-detention centers, is knowing and vividly evoked. His dialogue is clever and often quirky, and he surrounds Gidney with a host of strong characters. Fans of PI novels will love this one. --Thomas Gaughan